I always like it when I’m introduced to something new. Or when something that’s NOT new surprises me because it’s presented in a totally different way than I expected.
The latter was the case a couple of weeks ago at the kick-off reception for the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair. Not, until recently, a whisky drinker, I’ve never — at least, not in the last three decades — been much of a cocktail person. I don’t like the sugary, syrupy concoctions full of fruit juice or wannabe juices that are just gaggingly sweet. And fairly or unfairly, that’s always how I’ve found them.
Until that reception.
To make a long story as short as I can, the reception featured strictly cocktails made with products from the very impressive Crown Royal line. I like Crown Royal a lot, and was given the chance to taste five of the products side by side. My particular favourites were the Crown Royal Limited Edition Canadian Whisky ($34.99), and the Crown Royal Black Canadian Whisky ($31.99).
But I loved the cocktails, too. There were five available and I had a Black Manhattan, which I ended up adoring. The friends I was with had a Spring Sour and a Boulevardier — I was offered a sip of both and found I really liked them a lot, too.
The key to the delicious success of these drinks, in addition to the fact the base was Crown Royal, was, I think, that they were designed and prepared by skilled mixologists, so they were beautifully balanced and expertly made. Attention to detail is everything, and these drinks certainly exemplified that.
So, as promised, here are the recipes for the five featured Fair cocktails, courtesy of Crown Royal. If you’re having a finally-it’s-spring party or just a general get-together, or simply want something special for yourself, I can almost guarantee you’ll like these drinks.
Everybody I talked to at the Royal reception was completely enamoured by them, and I — as usual — talked to a LOT of people!
The Black Manhattan
Described as a sophisticated cocktail originally inspired by Lady Randolph Churchill (Winston’s mother), this modern Canadianized drink combines the best of Manitoba and the island of Trinidad with a splash of Angostura Bitters.
• Pour 1.5 oz. of Crown Royal Black Canadian Whisky into a tumbler with ice
• Stir in ¾ oz. of Martini and Rossi Sweet Vermouth
• Season with a dash of Angostura bitters
• Garnish with an orange zest and two maraschino cherries
Sometimes mistakenly called a whisky Negroni, The Boulevardier actually pre-dates the Negroni. A subtle combination of whisky, sweet vermouth and Campari, this is both an easy cocktail to prepare and a sophisticated drink.
• Pour 1.5 oz. of Crown Royal Reserve Canadian Whisky over ice into a cocktail shaker
• Add 1 oz. Campari
• Add 1 oz. Martini and Rossi sweet vermouth
• Stir gently and strain into a martini glass
• Garnish with a wedge of fresh orange
Referring to slang for U.S. Marines the original ‘leathernecks’ this classic cocktail features Crown Royal Limited Edition Canadian Whisky blended with blue curacao liqueur and fresh lime juice.
• Pour 1.5 oz. of Crown Royal limited Edition Canadian Whisky over ice into a martini glass
• Add ½ oz. of blue curacao liqueur
• Add 2 oz. of freshly squeezed lime juice and stir gently
• Top off with a lime wedge
An original from the 1920s, created at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, this cocktail mocked Prohibition’s supposed moral superiority. Featuring Crown Royal, this irreverent classic cocktail helped introduce American consumers to Canadian Whisky during that infamous era of bootleggers and gangsters.
This Scofflaw combines a great Canadian Whisky with lemon juice, dry vermouth and Grenadine for a taste so delicious it should be illegal.
• Pour 1.5 oz. of Crown Royal Deluxe Canadian Whisky into a cocktail shaker filled with ice
• Add ½ oz. Martini and Rossi Dry Vermouth
• Add 2 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice and ½ oz. Grenadine
• Shake thoroughly and strain into a martini glass and dress with a twist of orange zest
The Spring Sour
The Whisky Sour is a true classic cocktail. This version, the Spring Sour, updated with Canadian maple syrup and apple cider, then garnished with a cinnamon stick, conjures up contemporary Canadian flavours.
• Pour 1.5 oz. of Crown Royal Maple Canadian Whisky into a cocktail shaker filled with ice
• Add 1 oz. of lemon juice, 1 oz. of cloudy apple cider and ¾ oz. of pure Canadian maple syrup
• Shake vigourously and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice
• Finish with a cinnamon stick ‘swizzle’